March 31, 2023

BERKELEY. Discovering a parking ticket underneath the windshield wipers can destroy nearly any day.

However for low-income residents already struggling to make ends meet, this costly piece of paper is greater than only a monetary slap within the face.

In an effort to assist town’s most financially weak drivers get out of that debt, Berkeley officers final week voted to reform the exorbitant charges and fines that include citywide parking tickets, permits and towing providers.

Berkeley parking charges vary from $43 for an expired meter and $57 for staying too lengthy in a industrial space, to a whopping $225 for improper parking in residential areas throughout California soccer video games, and $317 for unlawful use of handicapped areas.

Traditionally, the variety of violations dedicated annually exceeds town’s inhabitants of 117,145.

In 2021, the Berkeley Police Division issued 119,075 tickets and raised greater than $3.5 million in parking charges to the overall fund, based on metropolis information. Over 137,000 tickets have been bought final 12 months, price over $4.7 million.

These charges—particularly once they begin to pile up and spiral uncontrolled if not paid on time—can push folks additional into poverty. And if folks have to surrender their autos in consequence, they usually additionally lose entry to jobs, schooling, well being care and different important sources.

Council member Rigel Robinson, creator of the report, mentioned that whereas parking guidelines do assist preserve the streets protected, he has seen firsthand how outdated punitive guidelines hurt low-income voters disproportionately in his neighborhood on town’s south aspect close to UC Berkeley. .

“I deeply consider that the Metropolis shouldn’t be within the enterprise of pushing folks additional into debt and poverty,” Robinson mentioned in an announcement. “These reforms signify a step in the direction of a extra humane transportation system at Berkeley.”

Berkeley parking officer Elysia McKeever points a parking ticket to a automobile with out a parking allow at a industrial loading space on Bancroft Method in Berkeley, Calif., Friday, February 3, 2023. (Ray Chavez/Bay Space Information Group)

Work to scale back the unfair results of those sorts of fines started a few years in the past in San Francisco, however since then comparable efforts have unfold throughout the nation, from Seattle to Chicago to Durham, North Carolina.

At Berkeley, increasing eligibility for month-to-month fee plans, decreasing late charges, and eliminating first-time towing offenses have been among the greatest adjustments authorised — with out dialogue or objection — on the Berkeley Metropolis Council assembly on Jan. 31.

Robinson famous {that a} $66 Metropolis Residential Parking Allow might be considerably extra reasonably priced than the a whole bunch of {dollars} that accumulate on unpaid tickets, particularly for many who haven’t any alternative however to park on metropolis streets whereas at work. or at dwelling.

His regulation, based mostly on suggestions from town’s Rethinking Public Security Activity Power and the Committee on Well being, Higher Life, Fairness and Public Coverage, eliminated limitations that beforehand prevented folks from buying such a allow if that they had unpaid tickets issued for greater than 21 the day earlier than. have been enrolled in one of many metropolis’s “poor fee plans.”

As well as, functions for these month-to-month fee plans – to assist pay again as much as $500 inside 24 months – are actually open to all family members incomes lower than 50% of Alameda County’s median revenue. IPP-eligible residents may keep away from the implications of unpaid tickets, corresponding to late charges and delayed automobile registrations.

For a household of 4, that is a rise from the earlier $27,750 federal threshold to $68,500 — a dramatic change that higher displays the ever increased price of dwelling within the Bay Space.

For single people, eligibility has been elevated from $13,590 to $47,950 per 12 months.

Berkeley parking officer Elysia McKeever issues a parking ticket to a parked vehicle without a parking permit at a commercial unloading area on Bancroft Way in Berkeley, California on Friday, February 3, 2023. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)
Berkeley parking officer Elysia McKeever points a parking ticket to a parked automobile with out a parking allow at a industrial unloading space on Bancroft Method in Berkeley, California on Friday, February 3, 2023. (Ray Chavez/Bay Space Information Group)

Robinson’s proposal additionally included asking metropolis supervisor Dee Williams-Ridley’s workplace to look into proceed reforming Berkeley’s charges and fines. Future choices may embody waiving towing prices for homeless residents, permitting undocumented immigrants to enroll in fee plans, and increasing entitlement to households that earn 80% and even 100% of median revenue.

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